Salem Al-Dawsari leads Saudi Arabian players going on loan at La Liga clubs

Saudi Arabian international Salem Al-Dawsari has joined Villarreal on loan until the end of the season. (Photo:
Updated 21 January 2018

Salem Al-Dawsari leads Saudi Arabian players going on loan at La Liga clubs

LONDON: Saudi Arabian international Salem Al-Dawsari will play on loan at La Liga’s Villarreal until the end of the season, the Spanish club have announced.
The loan move is part of an agreement between La Liga, the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia and the Federation of Saudi Arabia to give Saudi players European experience ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The 26-year-old winger will join from Al-Hilal, where he has played a total of 161 games in which he scored 28 goals and has made 23 assists.
Al-Dawsari has made 17 appearances for his country, scoring two goals.
He is one of several players to make a move to the Spanish league this weekend, with Yahia Al-Shehri also moving on loan to Leganés from Al-Nasr and Nouh Al-Mousa, who has gone on loan at Real Valladolid from Al-Fateh.
Levante from the top flight, alongside second division outfits Gijon and Rayo Vallecano also simultaneously announced on Sunday they had signed a Saudi Arabian player.
For the Spanish clubs, the loans are a way to gain exposure in a little-tapped market.
"With Yahia Al-Shehri's arrival, the club has improved its squad and also gained visibility in the Arab world," Leganes said in a statement.

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

Updated 20 October 2020

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

  • Barca have not won since 2015, but since then have never embarked on a new campaign amid so much disarray

MADRID: Despite managing to hang onto Lionel Messi, Barcelona begin its Champions League campaign with reduced expectations after one of their worst seasons in years.
The Catalan club appears to lack its confidence from previous seasons following an embarrassing elimination to Bayern Munich and a troubled off-season in which it nearly lost its talisman.

“Knowing what happened recently, we are not the top favorite,” coach Ronald Koeman said on Monday ahead of the team's debut in this season's competition against Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “But we are a team that can go far.”

Koeman arrived to put Barcelona back on track shortly after the 8-2 collapse against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which capped their first season without a title since 2007-08.

“Barcelona always plays to win titles, in the league and in Europe, but there are other strong teams,” Koeman said.

Barcelona have not  won the Champions League since 2015, but since then they had never embarked on a new campaign in the competition amid so much disarray.

The club avoided losing Messi after he said he wanted to leave, but it continued to endure political turmoil and even financial difficulties. President Josep Bartomeu is facing a censure motion that could force him to leave his post before the end of the year.

Koeman was given the task of revamping the first team, and he quickly got rid of veterans such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, but the club failed to bring in any of the players he wanted in the transfer window.

Koeman said Messi is fine despite scoring just once so far this season.

“Maybe his performance could be better, but I see him happy,” Koeman said. “I see him training well and focused. I have nothing to complain about him in that sense.”

He said “a bit of bad luck” has played a role in keeping the Argentina star from scoring more goals so far. Koeman also downplayed criticism of Antoine Griezmann for his recent poor performances, though he admitted that “everyone in the attack” can improve.

Barcelona opened the Spanish league with two convincing wins under Koeman, but then it drew 1-1 with Sevilla at home and lost 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

Hungarian champions Ferencvaros return to the Champions League for the first time since 1995. They needed to get through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.

The other Group G teams are Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv.

“We want to start with the right foot,” Koeman said. “We want to win the match and gain tranquility.”